Post morning break: Project options for Baruch
Next at Baruch today, the 17 or so folks gathered picked upon on Geanne Rosenberg's request to consider options for how Baruch College might work in a way that doesn't duplicate effort, truely serves and helps find sources of money.
One is a plug-and-play mode (Village Soup is a possible example).
Geanne Rosenberg: There are lots of publishing platforms out there, but if you want to make money, to produce a revenue stream, other than Village Soup, a lot of it seems to be proprietary. What is out there that is available or what can we build?
Joe Bergantino: Do models emerge from a room like this or from people just starting up and working on it? He thinks the volunteer-journalist idea reasonates to some degree. It works for volunteer fire departments (Densmore note: And for parent-teacher-organizations). What about an extension of Len's idea -- creating a model for a community where the people themselves can create the journalism and make money gradually. You make money after you have delivered a product, Bergantino notes.
Roz Bernstein of the Baruch faculty comments. She references the note on the screen: "Purchased wiht the Baruch student technology fee." She is thinking a lot about that community support model. "I think we are at a different point politically and economically." When she polled 100 students about her interests, for the first time in 35 years of teaching at Baruch, they wrote down politics. And also "service" was a word listed.
What about a community fee?
A model she suggests: "By working with a community ... and having some kind of 'media fee.' It could be bundled with wi-fi and simultaneously improving their technology." There would be a commitment that there would be that part of a community fee structure would go to this. "I think we are at a moment in America that there is a renewed sense of community service and this idea just might work."
She suggests to start with communities that have no papers.
There is discussion about whether government would collect the fee or some other entity would. Roz says she is just throwing the idea out -- she hasn't specified it.
Bergantino wonders if you can get people to pay before you have produced a product.
Josh Benton talks about the notion of university research that is produced which would not be supported by the public; it is instead supported by student tuition. So a public good is enabled in this way. He says he has talked with Brant Houston, former director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and Brant now works in the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA) at the Univ. of Illlinois Champaign-Urbana and has some ideas about repurposing data for sale that then supports journalism.
The Pulitzer Center in-school model
John Sawyer of the Pulitzer Center: They do a lot of aftermarketing to get the public to focused on a global debate on underreported issues. They take their journalists and projects, repackage them as web portals, working with the Watson Institute at Brown Unversity, which has relationship with thousands of high schools, to take these out. They are now trying to systematize this. They have started a "campus consortium" and have been pitching this to universities. They are building the network on the high school level. The jouranlist responds to questions online. They do a package with a university for $10,000, of which $3,000 goes to the journalists. They see this as a fraction of a big speaker's fee to talk to a university audience, and more more effective at promoting civic-sphere knowledge of international issues. "Nobody under 40 was looking at traditional journalism anyway," says Sawyer. This is an important effort "to engage this next generation."
Dave Mathieson: "That is exactly the model that is working music and video and film," say Dave Mathieson. When you start distributing through multiple channels, you also open up the ability to sell multiple products. this is Janet Sweitzer's concept behind the "Chicken Soup . . . " series. YOu can actually make more money from fewer people, by finding just the right people. The model is less about getting millions of people to finding hundreds of people that love you more.
"I'd be happy to sell a weekly podcast summary of our report."
Customized reporting: Coming to GlobalPost.com
Josh Benton says one of the legs of the GlobalPost funding model: They are going to sell personalized information services to people with specific knowledge needs who will get access to the specialized reporting skills of their correspondents.
Geanne Rosenberg: She asks DAvid Mathieson how would you set up a successful hyperlocal site?
DAve Mathieson: Start out with a large group and then narrow the interests down to, sewage interests, or other civic issues and then try the Spot.us model where those people can rally around journalism for a particular issue.
Dave Mathieson: Notes the Talking Points Memo model in which the audience helps gather the news.
Josh Benton: He asks is there some way to translate the sense of service that people feel in Teach for America and similar NGOs to journalism?
Len Witt: Why do people pay to go to a church? Len wants to understand that motivation and see if it can be turned to journalism as a sense of contributing to community. "What little piece of the church model might work for a journalism model?"
Steve Shepard: At CUNY, they are studing arts organizations to see how they way the are supported could be transferred to journalism.
Dave Mathieson: Membership sites work on the Internet. People who are doing this are making it work. He cites Robert Keosacki (spelling). He describes Keosacki's product segmentation of books and membership levels. "What can we provide to our community that will encourage them to pay $15 a month as a member and stay as a member and contribute?"
Geanne Rosenberg brings the discussion back to focusing on what Baruch can do. What if it were to facilitate in some way the growth of experiments in community jouranalism in the city's boroughs and ethnic media. John Sawyer suggest Pulitzer could help with that. Steve Shepard says grad students at CUNY already have a city-wide news service that they contribute to.
Joe Bergantino asks if there is a way to keep it from being perceived as only relevant to the largest city in the nation. Another person suggest you need to think of New York as a collection of neighborhoods.
Josh Benton: "What as a university can you provide that the free market cannot provide." The university can provide infrastructure and bodies (students).
Jan Schaffer makes two points: All of the models of journalism financing require an infracture -- someone to maintain the membership, the contact database, taking the subscriptions. There is merit in examining what the infrastructures would be in supporting the new models. There needs to be some serious discussion about networking journalism to provide some real value-added journalism -- civic-media networks. You could in NYC give a higher voice to the collective enterprise than any individual organization could. There is content being shared in Tulsa, Okla., Ohio, Florida. "We are seeing the rise of civic-media networks ... not only as AP dies but as regional newspapers die . . . we are going to lose the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the chicago Tribune long before we lose the New York Times."
Roz Bernstein asks: Could a portion of local cable fees be applied to this need?
Len Witt: In Northfield, he keeps finding citizens in Northfield who don't want to participate -- they just want the news, supplied by a professional journalist.
Howard Finberg: Harkens back to Jan Schaffer's idea about infrastructure. There is not going to be a single model. He contributes two thoughts: On infrastructure: Is there someone who could provide specialized skills across a number of sites -- such as a customer service manager who thinks about that not for a single site. Not a full time job for one site, but could be done for many. This could be a role for a university or consortium. The other point: The question of transparency. If there are a half a dozen models -- could we look at the books and the roles and responsibilities of the people staffing them -- you are more willing to take the plunge if you have knowledge about how others do it. That's a role the consortium can play.
Bill Densmore: Talks about the cookbook model. It's OK if Baruch is doing something that is uniquely useful for NYC. It would be seen in the context of a collaborative as just the **piece** that Baruch is uniquely capable of contributing, not the who enchilada.
Howard Finberg: Cookbook is a good analogy.
Geanne Rosenberg: YOu need a test kitchen.
Howard Finberg: Some models are already out there.
Josh Benton: It can be divorced from experiementation. It takes one person knowing everything about how folks are doing it.
Joe Bergantino: Isn't that something Poynter has indicated it would work on?
David Mathieson: Consider the affiliate advertising network model.
Josh: It can be a topical as well as a geographic community.
Geanne Rosenberg: One option for Baruch is the research warehouse center model, lookings at different models. She sees that Nieman Labs, RJI Collaboratory at Missouri, Poynter and Jan Schaffer's J-Lab may each have a piece of that.
What sites need: Three needs seen by Knight Foundation
Rosenberg says she talked to Gary Kebbel at the Knight Foundation and he finds over and again these sites need: 1) They need a really good technology platform. 2) Legal services and 3) A national advertising network. How do you build that so there are efficiencies.
Josh Benton: There are hundreds of ad networks out there. They are making money.
Gail Robinson: The technology piece is critical. After nine years they need help in that area at Gotham Gazette. TEch people are expensive, they are less likely to work for free than writers. That is a real challenge.
Student: Repurposing is a big potential revenue stream.
Geanne Rosenberg: If they do something only in NYC, is that a problem? A NYC-based site would provide an awful lot that would be replicable outside NYC. But she doesn't want to run into that credibility barrier. If they were to start an experimental approach with, say, Gotham Gazette, it might be good for members of a consortium to also join together and start something in a community where they would not be competing with a newspaper. Go into one of those communities as a public service, perhaps using a Village Soup template or something similar to that. She would be in favor of that.
Ruth Ann Harnish: "I appreciate you pointing out that what we are doing does not have to based here . . . we are trying not to duplicate effort, not to create something new. If something that exists need to be expanded or served or."
Josh Benton: What if the cookbook approach was channeled into a class, that might be online that would open source the work?
Geanne Rosenberg: Likes the idea of an online resource.
Steven Shepard: The idea of teaching a course in online entrepreneurial journalism is a good one.
Len Witt: Is there a need for a community supported journalism open source network? A question if we are talking about a network -- everyone in this room is doing some sort of project? What is our need right now?
Bill Densmore: We need a coordinated source of information. Many people in this room are contributing in valuable ways and more are coming, but is there some way to accumulate in some fashion.
Jan Schaffer: Many of the better-know local sites are having many people parading through wanting to know "how to do it."
Howard Finberg: J-Lab, Poynter has great tutorials. But the missing piece is the one-to-one relationships. Does it go back to the consultancy model or the networking effect where you perhaps host conversations, create an online group seminar. BRing people together in small, regional groups, to foster mentoring relationships. Maybe Baruch could do that.
Jan Schaffer: There is also international demand for this that shouldn't be underestimated. She is doing DVDs now that will tell some of those stories. They are not comprehensive stories. They are doing seven. There are many more than can be told.
Geanne Rosenberg: As you describe a center, it almost sounds like a Poynter north. Poynter already does a lot of that.
Howard Finberg: Teaching people. Using the wisdom of the crowds.
Dave Mathieson: What about list management? How to manage the database of people coming to our sites?
Roz Bernstein: One model that works. For $99 a year, you get online tutoring and mentoring and meeting with a trainer, podcasting, all platforms. "I have been studying this model and it is brilliant. They are brilliantly done. They are so clear ... you can just have that new Mac and do it. It has that possibility of one-to-one." So she suggests the model of $99 a year.
Bill Densmore: If Gotham Gazette subscribed for $99 a year, what would you want to get for that?
Gail Robinson: Something you could plug into or take.
Steve Shepard: We are talking about a form of continuing education. Should a university do this?
Bill Densmore: I'm trying to see the elephant that we are touching here. It feels a little like a professional association.